Set yourself up for pain-free days

Set yourself up for pain-free days

Whether you wake up stiff and sore or suffer more as the day wears on, these tips can help ease and prevent pain from morning to night.

two white middle aged women walking dogs

If your joints and muscles have been achy and sore for weeks (or months or even years), you’re not alone. More than half of older adults report being in pain.1

Sometimes the cause is clear — maybe you’re healing from surgery or an injury, or you have osteoarthritis. Other times, there’s no obvious explanation. Either way, pain is no fun, and it can get in the way of working or doing what you love.

While pain medications, prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), can help, there are many other lifestyle strategies that can offer support. Here are some simple and effective solutions for finding relief from pain at the time of day it bothers you most.

Stretch before getting out of bed
Muscles and tendons tend to stiffen up as you sleep so you feel tight when you wake up. Loosen up your back and knees by first gently pulling one or both knees to your chest. Then slowly straighten both legs. Repeat for several rounds. Next, you can bring both knees in and rock from side to side. Moving your body in these ways will increase blood flow and help ease pain.

Go for a morning walk
Once you’ve warmed up your joints with stretches, some movement like walking can make you feel even better. Just avoid walking outdoors when it’s freezing cold, since chilly temperatures can tighten muscles and make pain and stiffness worse. For a more calming walk, find a flat surface. Moving up and down hills can put stress on your joints. Even walks around your home can do the trick!

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Take a warm shower
A warm shower or bath can help loosen up stiff muscles and joints in the morning. Warm water eases stiffness and can be used in place of a heating pad. Tip: Keep the water warm, but not hot, so you don’t irritate inflamed muscles and joints.

Eat a good breakfast
If you take medications or supplements such as vitamin B2 to relieve pain, it’s important to take them with food to avoid upsetting your stomach. A good breakfast option: whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with low-fat milk, or plain yogurt with berries.

Check your medications
Some prescription drugs have painful side effects. For example, some statins (which lower cholesterol) can give you muscle pain. And some antidepressants can cause headaches. Talk to your doctor about whether lowering the dose of a medication or switching to another prescription might help if possible.

Take a time out
If your pain gets worse as the day goes on, it might be caused by stress. When you’re stressed, your body can respond by releasing hormones that can cause inflammation. Plus, anxiety can lead to muscle tension, which can stress your joints. When you feel tense, sit quietly and breathe deeply or focus on the sounds you hear around you for a few minutes. Research shows that these sorts of activities can help reduce your body’s perception of pain, which makes it easier to handle.2

Get up and move
If you sit a lot during the day, try to move every hour. This will get the blood flowing and relieve pain. It doesn’t have to be much: Walk across the room, go up and down the stairs, stand up and sit down quickly five times or do a few simple stretches.

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Try a Mediterranean diet
Experts recommend following a Mediterranean diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthy fats from fish, avocados and olive oil. These foods are rich in compounds that help reduce inflammation. Try to avoid foods with added sugar such as refined grains (white bread, pasta) and processed and packaged foods.

Rub the pain away
Nighttime aches keeping you awake? Try an over-the-counter (OTC) topical pain-relieving gel. The very act of massaging the cream into your skin may help relax you enough that you easily drift off into dreamland. Talk to your doctor before trying any new medication.

Play with temperature
It can be difficult to nod off at night if you’re in pain. But getting enough sleep — and especially high-quality sleep — can make a huge difference in how well you can tolerate discomfort when you’re awake. To help your body get ready for sleep, so you get all the hours you need, set your thermostat to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Our bodies naturally experience a slight dip in core temperature at night, so turning the thermostat down signals to your body that it’s time for bed.

Switch up your sleeping position
Sleeping on your stomach may cause morning pain. It puts your neck in an unnatural position and puts pressure on your spine. Try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees to keep your spine neutral. Or sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.3,4 

Ease pain with added care
If you need more help with managing pain, we’re here for you. Your Aetna® plan may offer additional benefits and services that can help you find relief, such as the ones below. See your plan web page to confirm coverage.

  • Acupuncture care (where applicable by plan)
  • Chiropractic care (where applicable by plan)
  • Telehealth services (where applicable by plan) Enjoy telehealth services from the comfort of home via phone or computer. Be sure to check with your provider to see if they offer this service.
  • Prescription drug delivery (where applicable by plan) Consider using a delivery option, if available for your prescription, from a participating CVS Pharmacy®. It can help you get the treatment you need while you rest and recover at home.

To learn more about your coverage for these and other services, visit your plan web page by typing in the URL found on your member ID card or scanning the QR code. Or call a Member Services Advocate at 1-833-570-6670 (TTY: 711) between 8 AM and 8 PM, seven days a week. 

Get your medications delivered to your mailbox.

You can order an up-to 100-day supply of certain medications to be shipped right to your home.

Log in to your member website at AetnaMedicare.com/Login to learn more. 

1. Ong T and Ni Thiam C. Special consideration for pain management in the older person. Clinical Medicine. July 2022; 22(4): 295–297. Accessed April 10, 2023. 

2. Mayo Clinic Health System. Use mindfulness to cope with chronic pain. September 25, 2020. Accessed April 10, 2023.

3. Cleveland Clinic. Is your sleep position causing you back pain?August 29, 2019. Accessed April 10, 2023.

4. Cleveland Clinic. Back, side or stomach: which sleep position is best for you?  January 18, 2021. Accessed April 10, 2023. 

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See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. This material is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Health information programs provide general health information and are not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs. Providers are independent contractors and are not agents of Aetna. Provider participation may change without notice. Aetna is not a provider of health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. The availability of any particular provider cannot be guaranteed and is subject to change. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change. For more information about Aetna plans, refer to our website. The formulary and pharmacy network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. For mail-order, you can get prescription drugs shipped to your home through the network mail-order delivery program. Typically, mail-order drugs arrive within 7 to 10 days. You can call the number on your ID card if you do not receive your mail-order drugs within this timeframe. Members may have the option to sign-up for automated mail-order delivery. Aetna and CVS Pharmacy® are part of the CVS Health® family of companies.

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